Let's meet at Merlot Brasserie, Cheltenham

Reviewed by Sarah Bryars, head of Target Public Relations

Having enjoyed, but not quite believed, Mireille Guiliano's secrets for staying slim while fine dining every day - revealed in the book French Women Don't Get Fat - a visit to the Merlot Brasserie lends credence to her philosophy.

Simplicity and sophistication are at the heart of a menu with plenty to tempt the tastebuds. While this modern cuisine has wide-ranging influences, there is an indelible French stamp.

Beginning with an aperitif of something sparkling and crisp, as recommended by the superb French waiting staff, I enjoyed an appetiser of salt and pepper tiger prawns served with chilli jam and glass noodle salad - enough to awaken your appetite without sating your hunger. To follow, on a damp and dreary autumn day, the slow-cooked belly pork, beautifully tender and sweet, accompanied by Asian greens, chilli lime sauce and rice, provides a warming treat.

And here comes the magic. Somehow the portion size and balance of accompaniments mean I can still enjoy a citrus cheesecake with blueberry sauce and clotted cream for dessert, and leave feeling happy, not hefty. Merlot's stylish decor, great service and delicious food make it a top choice for entertaining, and enjoying the company of, clients.

Where: Regent Street, Cheltenham, Gloucs
Contact: 01242 574008
How much: £35 for three-course lunch.

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